The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is continuing its crackdown on misbehaving passengers.
After instituting a zero-tolerance policy toward unruly passengers last summer, a policy that resulted in over $1 million in fines across almost 4,000 incidents, the FAA this week announced that it was proposing even more fines, this time for “unruly behavior involving alcohol.”
The FAA is proposing $161,823 in civil penalties against eight airline passengers for incidents specifically involving alcohol.
The incidents include an April Southwest flight from San Jose to San Diego when a passenger, who brought their own alcohol on their flight, sexually assaulted a flight attendant, and then smoke marijuana in the cabin’s lavatory. The FAA has proposed a $40,823 fine against that passenger.
The report also includes a March Delta Air Lines flight from Fort Myers to Detroit where a passenger who appeared intoxicated and admitted to drinking before the flight, took off his facemask, swore at passengers and accused them of stealing his property, and then threatened a crewmember, causing the flight to divert to Atlanta. The FAA proposed a $24,000 fine against him.
Another example is a March incident that occurred on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Burbank when a passenger who refused to put on a facemask demanded a refund on the flight because he was skipped for food and drink service when he was sleeping. He then became combative with flight attendants when they asked to him again wear his facemask after he finished a drink they had delivered.
After he was served another drink, he threw it to the floor and stomped on it. The FAA has proposed a $34,250 fine against him.
According to the FAA, those three incidents are just some of the nearly 300 passenger disturbances due to alcohol and intoxication since Jan. 1, 2021. In order to combat the trend, the FAA has asked airports to prevent passengers from bringing “to-go” cups of alcohol aboard their airplane and only allow the cabin crew to serve them inflight.
The report is the continuation of a troubling trend for flight crews who have been tasked with enforcing a lot of the new COVID-19 measures, like face mask requirements, since the pandemic began. While a typical year sees unruly incidents top out somewhere around 150, COVID-19 has caused chaos in the skies and has left flight attendants to endure more than ever, with close to 4,000 reports in 2021.
Most famously this year, there was an incident of an unruly passenger on a Frontier flight from Philadelphia to Miami earlier this month when attendants had to duct-tape a passenger to a seat because of his behavior that went viral.
The FAA has taken extraordinary steps to try and get passengers to comply with the new COVID-19 rules, including a marketing campaign that asked passengers to treat airplanes like a trip to grandma’s house.